Ren Heintz received their Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, San Diego (2015), and their MA in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Cal State LA’s English Department as an Assistant Professor, they were a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pomona College and held a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Tulane University. They teach and conduct research in multi-ethnic U.S. literature from the nineteenth-century to the present, as well as queer studies and gender studies. At Cal State LA, Ren teaches courses in American literature, ethnic American literature, law and literature, and gender, race, and sexuality in American literature. They are currently working on a book manuscript titled Racist Attachments: Queer Genealogies of U.S. Slavery and Settler Colonialism. Ren’s scholarship has appeared in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Studies in American Fiction, The Feminist Wire, and forthcoming in American Quarterly.
As a faculty fellow at Cal State LA’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexualities, I will use my time to conduct research on a contemporary artwork by Los Angeles based artist Ken Gonzales-Day, titled Bone-Grass Boy. In this artwork, Gonzales-Day reimagines the historical nineteenth-century archive of the Mexican-American borderlands of 1848 to include the erased and sublimated histories of his queer Chicanx identity. Gonzales-Day essentially asks: would my queer, Chicanx, and two-spirit identity be found in the archive? And is there a genealogical history of people who resonate with this identity as well? My project is invested in questions of the archive and its inclusion and erasure of queer of color identities. I hope to bring to fore how contemporary writing and artwork speculate upon and imagine a past that is not included in official histories as a means to open up queer of color futures. As a CSGS fellow, I intend to turn this research into an article for publication, as well as bring Cal State LA into conversation with Gonzales-Day’s artwork, both through classroom projects in my Ethnic American Literature course, and through campus programming.